Tag Archives: leader

why CEO’s fail

why CEO's fail

I recently revisited an article written by Ram Charan and Geoffrey Colvin entitled “Why CEOs Fail”. It popped into my head one afternoon at the cottage, and after a quick Google search I was able to locate it in the Fortune Magazine archives at the link below. When I looked at the original publish date, I was shocked to realize that it had been published over 16 years ago, in June of 1999. Once I recovered from that, I reread it only to be even more stricken by how absolutely applicable every single word of it is today.

Over these past 16 years, CEOs have continued to succeed and CEOS have continued to fail, just as often (if not more frequently) than during the time this article was written. The players are different now and the article could be republished with updated examples, but it really isn’t necessary, because the fundamental reasons for success and the fundamental causes of failure remain categorically the same.

Charan and Colvin argued that while strategy matters, it simply isn’t enough. Decisiveness and follow-through, effective execution, and an unwavering commitment to deliverables are the key components to CEO success every time. “So how do CEOs blow it? More than any other way, by failure to put the right people in the right jobs – and the related failure to fix people problems in time. Specifically, failed CEOs are often unable to deal with a few key subordinates whose sustained poor performance deeply harms the company.”

It’s no different now. I see this regularly in our work with clients. Let’s face it, relationships are difficult to experience objectively, they are difficult to manage effectively, and often, in business just as in personal life, people can be late to identify when a relationship fails to add value anymore, or worse, becomes a detriment to success. Employee performance impacts execution. Execution drives the success or failure of an organization. Period. And CEOs who cannot see themselves as accountable not only for their own performance, but for the performance of all players in a position to either drive or compromise organizational success, are not going to make it. Relationship blind spots have been the downfall of more than one potentially great, but ultimately failing leader. This is truly the key.

There is far more insight to be taken from this article in its entirety and, 16 years later or not, I definitely recommend a read (or re-read) of this Forbes magazine classic on why CEOs fail!
read here

the power of positive leadership

2015.04.15_the power of positive leadership

My grandson Spencer is the student council vice-president for his primary/middle school in downtown Toronto. At 12 years old he seems well on his way to running the world, or at least a mere Fortune 500 company, and it is very gratifying to watch him thrive in a leadership role.

One of the student council’s current initiatives is to redevelop the school’s Behavioural Code of Conduct. The current Code is written using negatively based language (i.e. everything students shouldn’t be doing), and student council representatives are working alongside the Vice-Principal to re-word the school’s Behavioural Code into positive descriptors. In other words, describing what someone adhering to the Code of Conduct is doing right, rather than what those who are violating the Code of Conduct are doing wrong.

Interestingly, the process and final product are not all that different from the Competency Models we develop with clients in the “real world” of business all the time. Which begs the question … If a group of 12 and 13 year olds understand the motivational importance of using positive language to help guide behaviour, then shouldn’t all organizations and managers be capable of the same?
Some food for thought the next time you are in a position of providing feedback to your employees or team.

dealing with backlash for making unpopular decisions

cbc

When the story of Jian Ghomeshi’s firing from the CBC first crept into public consciousness, initial responses to Ghomeshi’s now viral Facebook plea included no small amount of public outrage directed towards the CBC for seeming to meddle into people’s private lives where they didn’t belong. Indeed, many fans were quick to condemn the CBC’s decision to act so decisively with little public explanation provided. At that time, I was struck with the question of how organizations can make such monumentally difficult decisions, such as firing a popular and respected employee, without being damned if they do and damned if they don’t? Just a month prior, a similar outrage had been directed towards the NFL, who by all accounts took the opposite approach of the CBC, by not taking swift or strong action against player Ray Rice, even when privately confronted with evidence of egregious violent behaviour in his personal life. The organization was eventually publically shamed into taking action. I was left to consider how the Canadian public would feel if, a month from now, it had come out that the CBC was in possession of evidence of violent or criminal behaviour, and chosen to not take the immediate and final action they had. Firing their star player was the last decision the CBC would have ever wanted to deal with, given the immense initial backlash they could have predicted would ensue. As more information began to infiltrate the public sphere, however, all indications were it was the absolutely right, if not immediately popular decision to make.

It’s About Choices

Leaders who do not have the ability to “think in the future tense” and more comfortably compete in the realm of the unknown, will not be able to orient themselves and their organizations in time and space. Eventually, they will find themselves sucked into a “black hole.” Leaders must bring a sense of fresh perspective to the table, not about the past, which we already know, but about the future we do not yet understand.

At the end of the day, it is the net result of the choices we make and the things we choose to do, or not to do.You can choose to be nostalgic for the old days – but those days are gone. You will left behind as others continue to move and grow. You can choose to whine about the present – but whining does not inspire nor spark the changes necessary to grow.

Or you can look tot he future – By thinking in the future tense you can anticipate, shape and create the future. These ‘forward thinking’ people are the kind of leaders that are at the head of successful businesses and organizations. And they are the type of leader I would want to follow.

The Coach as Leader

We are nearing the end of what is arguably the largest sporting event in the world; the FIFA World Cup. In the spirit of the tournament I decided to write a quick post linking sports with business deficiencies.

The most talented players only want to play for the right coach with the right system and the right winning culture. In return, frustrated sports fans question whether the loyalty of the players lies with the name on the back of the jersey or the logo on the front. In the future, this same free agent attitude and approach will increasingly be found in the business workplace, where the vast majority of us toil and where the same essential psychology is at play.

The lack of rigorous systems and objective scientific processes in the talent management sphere is only one reason for this deficiency. The other, perhaps even more important, reason is the lack of understanding, poor judgment and the subjective biases that impact our perceptions when it comes to talent spotting and talent management. We all think we are better than we really are when it comes to our people sense.

The Important Role of Dissatisfaction

In the modern organization, the leader must play the active role of chief disorganizer or chief agitator, rather than the passive role of chief organizer. If the top leader is not modelling this type behaviour, it will not be seen as an essential responsibility of the leaders and employees below. Leaders, at all levels, must be encouraged to seek the truth, identify the gaps, call out the misalignments and propel themselves forward with the help of a burning, urgent dissatisfaction with the status quo.

These are times for truly transformational leaders, not bookkeepers, analysts and organizational mechanics whose skills are limited to maintaining the status quo. Transformational leaders, by their very nature, are wired and motivated differently; they operate according to a different agenda. Their core leadership philosophy is deeply rooted in a complex combination of their chronic dissatisfaction with the way things are and a fervent belief that things can be better.